“Squak will kick you in the nuts!” - race director.
As I was getting ready to run my first 50k race, I was advised it would be a good idea to do a training run through the Squak Mountain, a 10 mile course with 3,500ft of elevation gain, located right in the middle of the ultra course. It was a great idea indeed and a joyful run through the mountains!
The trail itself was super pretty and unlike a lot of nearby hikes, was not very populated. In two hours, I saw less than ten people. Leaf coverage (see pictures below) was gorgeous, but with so much rain and wind hitting Seattle in the previous week, the floor was completely covered with slippery leaves, hiding beneath rocks and sticks and ditches.
Squak Mountain Entrance
Squak Mountain Forest
I was very glad that I turned navigation function on my Suunto watch and pre-planned the route. Although I brought a paper map with me, there was certainly one time where I would’ve gained a ton of extra distance if I didn’t listen to the watch. However, that said, there was also a point where my watch wasn’t very helpful, but having a paper map in hand and trusting my senses, I ended up on the right path. The watch helped to confirm that I was moving in the right direction.
All-in-all, the trail was gorgeous. Fall colors, mushrooms, moss, it was exactly what I needed to relax and to slowly plow through the distance. A lot of energy was spent on navigation, as the course has many twists and turns, but it also added to the fun of it all.
For the race itself I am going to make an executive decision to slowly walk through the toughest uphills. I am not going to win this race, and there’s no point to overly exert myself on the uphills only to compromise my chances elsewhere. As it currently stands, and certainly if it rains before/during the race, the course is going to be a slip-n-slide. I’d rather spend my energy to stay focused, watch for the rocks, and take all the right turns.
Looking forward to the 50k. It’s going to be great!